Tag Archives: Enterprise 2.0 Summit

It’s not about technology – it’s about doing it the Enterprise 2.0 way

Yesterday I followed the live stream of the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara. I could not help comparing the event with the recent Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Frankfurt. I realize why many people had raved about the Summit as “so different from the American conferences – more a management conference than a vendor event”.

In Santa Clara, I was surprised to see that Tony Zingale, CEO of Jive Software, started his key note with an advertising clip. Generally speaking, I was a bit disappointed by the key notes shown on the live stream. Most of them came from software vendors (I missed the first one from the U. S. State Department). IMHO, these talks were a bit like sales presentations – and focused too much on their respective platforms.

Yes, I admit it, one of my mantras is “It’s not about technology”. At the Summit, I learned that T-Systems’ Frank Schoenefeld considers this as one of the seven pitfalls of Enterprise 2.0. He advised us to carefully select the technology, integrate it into the existing software stack,  teach and educate employees how to use the social software stack.

I agree, this is important. Still, for me technology is a “conditio sine qua non” – indispensable, but not enough! Or – as Oscar Berg put it – technology is the obstacle between the user and his goals.

I am very happy that the Enterprise 2.0 Summit covered all those aspects that matter much more than technology. For instance, take the first day’s key notes  on “Manager 2.0 – Key Elements of Leadership Concepts in an Enterprise 2.0“. Richard Collin started his speech with a very powerful statement: Enterprise 2.0 is not about applying Social Software to the enterprise. It’s a new model of doing business and managing a company.

In Enterprise 2.0, technology is merely an enabler for a cultural evolution. It can change the way we connect with our colleagues, share information, collaborate, manage projects, innovate, lead, create value. Ah, here’s one thing I liked in yesterday’s Jive clip: It helps us move from “me” to “us”.

When introducing “2.0″ to the Enterprise, we should position it as “a better way we work”. Better for the company, because it’s more efficient, opens new business opportunities and creates more value. And – even more attractive to our audience – better for YOU because it will make your tasks easier, help you feel appreciated and connected to your colleagues.

When planning communication for Enterprise 2.0, try to work out why your colleagues will FEEL GOOD when working in this new way. And don’t listen to anyone saying “they would feel good if they didn’t have to work”. You only need to know an unemployed person to understand that’s not true. We are social beings, and we want that the things we do make sense. That’s why “working the enterprise 2.0 way” appeals to us.

Last week, I learned that this can happen without any technology. I was invited to a workshop, together with 11 colleagues from very different units. Although most of us had no direct stakes in the workshop topic (“not in my target agreement”), and many of us had not met before, we managed to work out a great result and even committed to doing a follow-up. The success factors may sound familiar to you:

  • At the beginning, we worked out why the topic is vital for our company – and why we personally feel passionate about it
  • The organizers made it clear that we were picked not because of our job description, but because of our experiences and diverse approaches to the topic
  • The moderator created a collaborative spirit

At the end, we realized that we had worked “the Enterprise 2.0 way” – without ever logging into our platform.

Enterprise 2.0 Summit – some key learnings

This blog is still “in statu nascendi”, stimulated by the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Frankfurt. What a great event, absolutely energizing and inspiring! I’ll try to share my thoughts and conclusions here, bit by bit. Let’s start with some key learnings:

  • Enterprise 2.0 is not limited to applying Social Software to the enterprise. It’s a new way of doing business and managing a company.
  • If Social Software is introduced to a company, usage patterns evolve: First people try the new tools, then they gradually modify their communication and interaction, until (if you’re successful) they finally integrate the software into their business processes.
  • Integration of existing business processes is a key success factor for early adoption. If you do not achieve this, people will perceive your Social Software as “extra work coming on top” and – even if they use it – you will end up with more silos.
  • After having successfully established some existing business processes to your social software, you can start facilitating the emergence of totally new ways of doing business – lightweight processes with human intelligence thrown in. This can transform the way we work and create even more value.
  • Cultural or organizational change is seen as essential. I agree, that’s what will happen if we are successful. However, I would still not talk to people about change. Most of them do not care for change, it scares them. BUT: they care for improvement, so that’s what we should talk about.
  • Convincing is not the right strategy for an Enterprise 2.0 Manager. If you feel people need convincing, just move on.
  • Cultural differences need to be considered – but they can also be used as an excuse. You need to look carefully.
  • There is no easy way around language barriers. You need to find the right balance between corporate “lingua franca” and local languages for local content.
  • You should not, under any circumstances, underestimate the need for education and guidance. However, this will probably happen in the early phase of Enterprise 2.0 adoption. Due to the exploratory nature of the game, you cannot prepare everything in advance. Just don’t despair and develop it as you go.
  • When it comes to information protection, we tend to overestimate the risks of new channels and underestimate the risks of the existing ones. If you empower people by education, you will find that a culture of trust is safer than a culture of control.
  • After successful adoption inside the enterprise, the inclusion of partners and customers are logical next steps towards a more mature Enterprise 2.0.

Kudos to all the brilliant people at the Summit who helped me learn. This summary in particular was inspired by Richard Collin, Samuel Driessen, Frank Schoenefeld, Bertrand Duperrin, Luis Suarez, Oscar Berg, and Lee Bryant.